I recently posted this on Google+ but thought I’d share it here too.
It seems like the piano goes 24/7 in the house, which is a good thing when the music is Debussy, Beethoven Sonatas, incredible arrangements of the Pirates theme, beautifully improvised hymns, etc. Sometimes “The Little Indian Song” can wear on you though (a couple young ones are just starting out) 🙂
Having our own regrets about quitting music lessons and hearing so many others express those same regrets, we’ve always “made” our kids take piano lessons until they were 18 under pain of death and all that (for the record it’s never been a real problem to keep them going). They could learn other instruments too but piano was a must. Without exception our children (age 24 and down) have expressed great gratitude for our rigidness in this. I don’t believe any child actually kept up with lessons until age 18 but that was because proficiency, rather than an arbitrary timeframe, was our goal. All were quite good before age 18 and a couple even played in UT’s Bates Recital Hall. The daughter pictured here requested on her own to start lessons again even after we said she could be done — she enjoys it.
This evening I photographed my youngest boys in the backyard with the goal of trying out something called the Brenizer Method, or bokeh panorama. I first heard of it in a post by Brandon Brasseaux. The goal of the Brenizer Method is to create an image with extremely shallow depth of field. If I were to take the shot above using a single frame I would either (1) use a very wide-angle lens or (2) use a “normal” lens and stand far back from the scene. In either case it would be difficult to get much bokeh in the image. I’ll let you consult a depth-of-field calculator for the exact details but suffice it to say that the wide-angle lens — even at an aperture of f/1.8 — doesn’t result in much bokeh when focused at any reasonable distance. A lens like I was using in this shot — a 50mm f/1.4 — would require such a long focus distance (i.e. I’d have to stand so far back) that the depth of field would large enough to eliminate a lot of bokeh. The Brenizer Method uses multiple frames to form the image — using a much shorter focus distance resulting in much shallower depth of field than if you shot one frame standing further from the subject.
The process goes as follows: Instead of standing far away, stand close (I roughly filled the frame with the two boys). I used an aperture of f/1.4 to get the shallowest depth of field and set a shutter speed in manual mode to keep the exposure consistent in all the frames (I also set the camera to daylight white balance). I prefocused on the boys and switched the lens to manual focus. The first frame I took was the one with the boys in it (took many tries to get something decent). I then let them run off and proceeded to shoot overlapping frames (with the camera in the same location) of the rest of the scene you see above. I used 14 straight-out-of-the-camera frames to stitch the panorama in Photoshop but in the end I cropped the image quite a bit. It took all of two minutes to shoot the frames, even with the boys’ goofing off. Since my goal was to try out the method itself, I didn’t stress about background, lens flare, etc.
After stitching I warmed the image a bit, added vignette, tweaked the exposure/clarity on the boys, and removed some of the color fringing on the branches so it wasn’t *so* prominent. Pretty simple stuff. I want to try more of these but next time I’ll find a prettier background. I believe I’ve given enough info for one to start playing with it but if not, an internet search will turn up a lot more information in a hurry.
Here’s a link to posts by the man behind it all: http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/category/brenizer-method/
A recent sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico along Padre Island National Seashore. The image was processed with 4 or 5 different textures in OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite. After that I did a few Photoshop curves adjustments…that’s it.
Some time ago I took the plunge and purchased OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6. I finally got time to try it out so I grabbed the image (original below) of some cows in pasture to try it out OnOne’s tools. It was a very small jpg (only 344k) but it was conveniently sitting around on my desktop. [Regarding the shot itself: I was traveling in east Texas recently and while heading out to work early one morning saw these cows and took the shot. I liked the peaceful, foggy scene.].
I opened up this image in Perfect Photo Suite 6 in the software’s standalone mode (previous versions required opening from Photoshop I believe). I first used the Effects panel and the Textures sub-panel to add several texture layers (there are layer and masking capabilities similar to Photoshop) , adjusting “strength”, masking out a few spots, and changing blending modes. There are additional settings as well. For instance, you can select “normal”, “subtle”, “lighter”, and “darker” options in a “Mode” drop down which change the initial effect.
I then went into the Frames panel and added the film border which included the decay effect along the edges. There are roughly 1500 individual frames to choose from and a myriad of options which can be tweaked for each. Of course you can combine effects as well…ENDLESS options.
My impression based on this 15-minute experimental session? Good stuff. There are some things which will take getting used to regarding the particulars of using the masks and such. I’m not implying anything negative though — I’m just used to Photoshop and it will take a little practice to become proficient in the subtleties of OnOne’s tools. There is clearly a lot of potential and I will definitely be digging into Perfect Photo Suite 6 more deeply.
I bought the spinning rod/reel combo pictured above for my son’s recent birthday. I knew I’d be taking him fishing at the beach and wanted him to have something he could handle, yet something stout enough to handle the creatures one may catch in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico. My oldest son caught a 40″ redfish (yep, 40″) on a rig just like this when he was 10 or 11 years old.
I’m amazed again and again how young children are able to learn and accomplish much more than we give them credit for. [In fact, I think that some part of society’s problems these days are related to expecting too little out of our young people from age 2 all the way to 25…but that’s a discussion to have in person over lunch or something] There were some lousy casts at first as my son learned how to use the spinning reel, but within 30 minutes he was practically a pro. He put on his own bait, cast it, reeled it in to check it here and there, and landed some fish completely on his own. I still removed them from the hook…we’ll work in that next trip maybe.
I didn’t have my camera out much on the beach b/c I (1) the trip was about father/son time and (2) I wanted to keep the sand out of the camera. But, I did take a little time to record some shots of him fishing. I took many that included a wider scene — the entire rod, more background, etc. but this is really my favorite. This photo wasn’t posed at all and he looks like a little man “working the fish”.
There were several cropping options considered but in the end I didn’t crop it at all. I really like a square crop because of the focus it put on my son, but I wanted the dunes and sky to give a more complete sense of location. Having the fishing rod disappear out of the frame actually bugs me somewhat. Post-processing was minimal and consisted of simple tone/contrast adjustments…I believe I did everything in Lightroom.
If I were a photographer on assignment I suppose what I would’ve done is gotten out in the water further — almost straight in front of my son. This might have allowed me to capture the whole rod with the dunes and sky while keeping my son relatively prominent in the frame. I was on a father/son assignment though and I got what I was really after and what mattered most — shots that capture the memory of the trip.
On Wednesday I left work mid-afternoon — wasn’t feeling so great. I walked in the door at home, said ‘hi’ to my family while making a beeline to my bed. Three hours later I woke up to miserable aches and fever. While (barely) standing at the sink to get a drink of water I looked through the window and saw my daughter swinging. Loving that backlight from the sun, and remembering that the dailyshoot assignment was to take a photo using natural light, I grabbed the camera (which is always handy) and took this shot. I purposely included the window frame to give a sense of someone inside looking out. Headed right back to bed for the night at that point…
I had in mind to try and use the window frame in a rule-of-thirds mode but it just didn’t work out with the other elements in the frame as I tried options. Of course I only tried for about 30 seconds because I couldn’t get back to bed fast enough. I got a little lens flare…that’s OK sometimes and doesn’t detract from this shot IMO.
Finally processed the image the next day — picked a preset in Lightroom, added a bit of warmth and clarity — done.